Hitchhikers Redux

Rory posted an interesting counterpoint to my review.

Rory has some good points - I agree that you can't expect a movie to be totally faithful to a book, and I have noticed that there is a distinct correlation between how well somebody liked the book (and, perhaps, how familiar they were with the book), and how disappointed they were with the movie.

Rory would argue that we are "armchair literary snobs", but I think there's more to it than that.

Certain books, for whatever reason, resonate with certain people. Adams has a peculiar way of twisting reality in a particular way, and much of that depends on his choice of words. It's funny in a very specific way.

Somebody running around with a juicer on his head or holding the arm of a robot may also be funny, but not in the same way.

I'm disappointed with the movie because it didn't capture that particular view of reality (or unreality) that Adams excelled at.

To risk a poor analogy, I went hoping for a Kevin Smith movie or a Jim Carrey movie, and ended up with a Will Ferell movie. It's still funny, but definitely not in the way that I had hoped it would be funny. It's no longer quirky - it's mainstream, as evidenced by the major role that that Arthur-Trillian "romance" played in the movie, and it's total absence in the book. Just another "me too" movie...

Come to think of it, the book to movie analogy isn't really fair in this case. Hitchhiker's first showed up as a radio show, morphed into a book, a BBC TV series (which, for all of its faults, is funnier than the movie).

Comments (5)

  1. Robert Watkins says:

    FWIW: if the movie had been totally faithful to the book, that would have been against the tradition of the HHGTG.

    The books weren’t faithful to the radio series, the TV series weren’t faithful to either, and the books have lots of internal inconsistencies within themselves. 🙂

  2. heaths says:

    And in addition to what Robert said, the movie script was apparently mostly from Douglas Adams according to directory Robbie Stamp: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/04/26/1952248&tid=97&tid=133&tid=214.

    With all the differences between the radio version, book, BBC series, and now the movie I’d say DNA treated this like a work-in-progress.

  3. I disagree with:

    "there is a distinct correlation between how well somebody liked the book (and, perhaps, how familiar they were with the book), and how disappointed they were with the movie"

    unless you mean a negative correlation… But I don’t think you do.

    I was into the books in a really big way. I can quote great swathes of it on demand, I’d read them and listened to the radio plays many times, sought out all the various forms in which hitchhikers appeared… Basically I’m a bit of a tragic h2g2 fan. 🙂

    So I was much more aware than most people would be of the various ways in which the film diverged from the radio plays and the books. And yes, those changes jarred, particularly when I was expecting it to go somewhere and it didn’t.

    Nonetheless I enjoyed the film a great deal. (As did my partner, who is also a big fan of the original.)

    And I really don’t see how you can say the TV series is better than the movie. The TV series adds very very little to what the radio series had to offer, and detracts in so many ways. The only good thing about the TV series was the rather excellent animation done for the guide. The movie by contrast avoided the mistake the TV series made, and tried to adapt in order to suit the medium, rather than sticking slavishly to the original. And I think it’s the better for it. I’d certainly rather watch the movie again than the TV series again.

    I would agree that there were a few places where Douglas Adams’ talent for ‘twisting reality’ was lost. I always though his particular speciality was to combine the bizarre with the banal – a lot of Hitchhiker’s humous derives from the juxtaposition of fantastic large scale stuff like space battles, and petty and very human stuff like bitchy arguments. (E.g. the guide entry that talks in detail about a war which, it eventually transpires, was about something one general said about the other general’s mother…) In a few places, this was diminished.

    But I don’t think the love story aspect is a part of this. Douglas Adams chose to put that in there for character development purposes. So it might not be in keeping with what you were expecting, but it’s not a betrayal of Adams’ legacy. A lot of people seem to think that this was disnification added after D.A. died, but he put that part in very early in the script development.

  4. Clancy says:

    So there I was, running an in house created code generator against a rather large database to create a DAL based around existing stored procedures, some of which had really large parameter lists (created by an outside PLC programmer…long story). Well 25,000 lines of code created in 2 seconds, but intellisense would not work for any instance of this autogenerated DAL class. Turns out the culprits were 8 methods that tried to build around these 76 parameter long procs.

    OK, so how many parameters can I have before intellisense stops working for the entire class? You guessed it: 42.

  5. Dave Thomas says:

    Hmm My latest project has 42,000 lines of code…

    The love story in the film was probably added by DNA to rival the Fenchurch love affair in the closing books of the 5 part trilogy, I perticually liked the development of that…

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